Senator Kennedy, You Can't Handle the Truth

To a cheering crowd at the Center for American Progress here in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, the distinguished Sen. Edward Kennedy (D.-Mass.), spoke as “an American deeply concerned about the future of the Republic.” Standing between two American flags, reading from a teleprompter, and beginning his speech with fond remembrance of America’s founding fathers and the ideals that transformed thirteen colonies into the country we are today, he looked very . . . presidential. So much so that if I didn’t know better, I would have thought that the aging politician were running for office himself.

“I believe that this Administration is indeed leading this country to a perilous place. It has broken faith with the American people, aided and abetted by a Congressional majority willing to pursue ideology at any price, even the price of distorting the truth. On issue after issue, they have moved brazenly to impose their agenda on America and on the world. They have pursued their goals at the expense of urgent national and human needs and at the expense of the truth. America deserves better. The Administration and the majority in Congress have put the state of our union at risk, and they do not deserve another term in the White House or in control of Congress.”

If this isn’t the beginnings of a great speech, I don’t know what is. And if the eight (thanks for playing Carol Moseley Braun) presidential candidates don’t do some creative cutting and pasting into their 2004 playbook, or Blackberrying job offers to Kennedy’s speechwriter, they would be fools.

Thankfully, as of this moment, the senior Senator from Massachusetts is not running for office. And maybe that is the very reason that he felt bold enough to make such strongly worded statements directed toward the Bush administration. On the other hand, maybe he thought that the Democratic candidates needed a little help knocking those pesky above-average Bush job approval ratings down a few percentage points.

From Sen. Kennedy’s point of view, it would seem that President Bush’s first term in office has been ruthlessly corrupt, an absolute failure, a masterful cover-up of the truth; and if he wins another term, it could mean the end of American civilization, as we know it.

According to Senator Kennedy, President Bush’s worst offense thus far has been in the area of foreign policy. (No brainer there — although I haven’t seen it, I would assume that this is Talking Point #1 in the DNC’s playbook.) Kennedy said that the President employed “misguided ideology and distortion of the truth to take the nation to war. In doing so, the President broke the basic bond of trust between government and the people.” He went on to say that “If Congress and the American people knew the whole truth, America would never have gone to war.”

I happen to think just the opposite is true. Do you really want the truth? As Jack Nicholson so eloquently put it in A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth.” Because the truth is, if any American lived a single day under the former dictator of Iraq, they too would have been screaming for regime change in Iraq.

Besides that minute detail, I assume the Senator is referring to the fact that weapons of mass destruction have not yet been found. But does this make the President a liar and a man who has broken faith with the American people? If that’s the case, then the Senator should be making similarly strong statements about President Bill Clinton, and the members of the United Nations, who also believed that Saddam Hussein was working on WMD and was a threat to his neighbors and the world. Just ask the Kuwaitiis.

And speaking of the “truth,” let me refresh the Senator’s memory of a few facts. The United Nations in 1999 concluded that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax, the materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, and the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. I should have him speak with my friend Dr. Katrin Michael, an Iraqi who still suffers today from the effects of Saddam’s environmental “clean air” policy that he issued in June 1987 as he released bombs containing mustard gas and cyanide in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq.

But don’t just ask her. Now that Saddam Hussein has been removed from power, we’re daily hearing the truth from the people who lived under his malicious and tyrannical rule. Are they, too, misleading us and distorting the “truth”?

According to Sen. Kennedy, America’s only chance for survival is change here at home — in the form of removing President Bush from office and replacing him with a Democrat in the Oval Office. In his words, “The election cannot come too soon.” But which of the Democratic presidential candidates could save America from the peril that we currently find ourselves in? After all, the economy is in a successful recovery, progress in Iraq is moving along relatively well, and according to the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll, 59 percent of Americans approve of the President’s job.

Maybe Sen. Kennedy is rooting for the unpredictable, hot-tempered, and proudly religious Gov. Howard Dean? Or maybe the radically pro-choice “until the moment of birth” General Wesley Clark? Or maybe his fellow Massachusetts comrade, the X-rated “Did I expect George Bush to f*** it up as badly as he did?” Sen. John Kerry?

In my opinion, none of the current eight candidates have what it takes to confront the problems or the issues that face our country in the aftermath of 9/11. Actually, I take that back. The only one who comes close is Sen. Joseph Lieberman who I can proudly say is the one Democratic candidate exhibiting some common sense with regard to Iraq. In the recent primary debate in Iowa, he said, “I don’t know how anybody could say that we’re not safer with a homicidal maniac, a brutal dictator, an enemy of the US, a supporter of terrorism, a murderer of hundreds of thousands of his own people in prison instead of in power. To say that we haven’t obliterated all terrorism with Saddam in prison is a little bit like saying somehow that we weren’t safer after WWII after we defeated Hitler because Stalin and the communists were still in power.”

Sen. Kennedy, the next time you want to blow off some steam, please spare us the partisan half-truths and melodrama. If you’re really seeking the truth that will save the American people, here it is: President George W. Bush, although not perfect, has proven that he can, in fact, be trusted with the future of the Republic.